NHS England is under fire over its handling of a formal consultation on a controversial plan to pull the plug on children’s heart surgery in Leicester.
East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre, formerly known as Glenfield, has literally been a lifeline for young heart patients from South Holland and Lincolnshire.
NHS England wants it closed but is dragging its feet over a consultation. Lincolnshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee is still waiting for information from NHS England – and councillors fear they will be left with only a few days in which to play a part in the consultation.
Committee chairman Christine Talbot said: “We do not believe NHS England have thought through the full implications of stopping these services for very sick children and babies in Lincolnshire and across the East Midlands.”
The council says the consultation was due to start in December but was delayed until this month – although NHS England has not yet given a date.
Coun Talbot explained: “The committee have been following this issue since 2012, and I am concerned that until we get more information from NHS England, the timing of the consultation may mean we will not be able to take a full and active part in the consultation because of the restrictions around local government elections that begin at the end of March.”
NHS England’s regional director of specialised commissioning, Will Huxter, was asked questions and heard members’ concerns about the closure proposals when he attended the health scrutiny committee in December.
The council has now learned Mr Huxter is unavailable to attend the January 18 health scrutiny committee but has offered to attend in March.
Councillors have asked questions including one about the capacity of an alternative centre in Birmingham.
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